Get out and about with 50% off South West Trains this Half Term

swt_logo for 3rd PartiesEnjoy 50% off standard off-peak day return tickets every day until Friday 31st October when you book in advance with South West Trains!

The best news is you can travel ANYWHERE across the South West Trains network!  So book your ticket online today and start exploring!  You can also book your tickets at ticket offices or by calling 0345 6000 650.  Remember you must book your tickets a minimum of 24 hours before you travel to receive the discounted fare!

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Weekend Events 11th/12th October 2014

Danyah Miller in I Believe in Unicorns - Photo credit Richard Davenport.
Danyah Miller in I Believe in Unicorns – Photo credit Richard Davenport.

Cinema offerings this weekend from Vue’s Kids AM club  – apparently just on Sunday are Earth to Echo or Maleficent both on at 10 am – just £1.75 a ticket. Port Solent’s Odeon is also showing Earth to Echo on both Saturday and Sunday at 11 am – £2.50 a ticket here but at least another hour in bed.

 

See! Make! Do! is on at the Aspex Gallery on Saturday – join the participation team and artist Letty Clark for a family art session.  Always a choice of at least three activities using a variety of materials and media, all based on the current installations in the gallery.

Creative Hearts will be holding their monthly session for dads to get creative with their children on Saturday at Drayton United Church from 10.30 am – 11.30 am, £2 a session.  Mums are welcome too, provided they bring Dad.

Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns will be at The Spring in Havant, brought to you by Olivier Award nominated theatre company Wizard.  This intimate show is set in a library full of books that hold more than stories between their pages.  It is a tale of the power of books and the bravery of a young boy called Tomas.  Tomas hates reading at school but his world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn Lady in his local library… Add your own magic to the story by bringing your own book to add to the set and swap it for another at the end. This production is suitable for children aged between 5 and 11 years of age and is part of Havant’s literary festival.

large-121723-sp-glass-slipper-special-briliance-Groundlings Theatre are hosting a recruitment event for the Dockyard’s Festival of Christmas, so if you want to perform, do stage management or work within the wardrobe department in the largest Christmas festival in Europe, you can register between 2 pm and 9 pm on Saturday 11th. On Sunday they will be hosting auditions for child performers for this year’s pantomime Cinderella from 10 am – 5 pm.

Bransbury Park Miniature Railway will be running on Sunday afternoon, weather permitting for the penultimate session this year.

Further afield you can find the Autumn Pumpkin Festival and Scarecrow Avenue at Royal Victoria Country Park.  There will be a decorated Pumpkin competition, children’s games, craft stalls and local food and drink together with live music.  The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton will be playing Peppa Pig’s Big Splash on Saturday with performances at 10.30 am, 1.30 pm and 4 pm.

 

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My Journey Portsmouth Loves Cycling – Here’s why:

4984 My Journey - I love Cycling 800 x 800 TWO RSWe all know cycling is good for our health, the environment and our budgets, but…

It is a common statement, and one that I hear friends saying, normally followed by a reason why they don’t cycle.  I can sympathise; when it is cold and/or wet the last thing anyone wants to do is pick up their children from school with bikes dragging lunchboxes, PE kits and water bottles home or to cycle around town to pick up the ingredients for tonight’s tea.

When looking into the benefits associated with cycling and being active in general, they are pretty conclusive.  A study carried out at University of East Anglia (UEA), followed nearly 18,000 adult commuters from across the UK over 18 years.  Researchers found that those who had an active commute were more likely to have a higher level of well-being that those who went by car or public transport.

It is not just commuters that benefit from cycling (or walking) to their destinations.  If we all are a little more active our chances of obesity and associated problems of coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes etc… are greatly reduced.  Add feeling less stressed into this mix and cycling seems like a very good idea.  You get fit and feel great, what’s not to love about cycling?  You could cycle the school run, cycle to work or get together with friends to cycle for fun.

Portsmouth City Council and My Journey are running the I Love Cycling campaign.  The idea is to encourage more people (like parents) to dust our bikes off, gingerly get on them and get going.  The Campaign provides training, classes, routes and other essential pieces of information that make cycling round the city easier and more convenient than driving, (which, most of the time, it really is).

We are looking for ways to encourage more people like you to get on their bikes and to that end I throw the floor open to you to tell us what works for you and what you would like to see changed. You can engage with us on Facebook or Twitter @MyJourneyHants.

Check our website for details of up-coming events, courses and routes.

My Journey

This is a guest blog post by My Journey Portsmouth, in association with Portsmouth City Council.

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Children’s Events at Portsmouth Bookfest 2014 – Tickets on Sale Now

logo_bookfestTickets for Portsmouth’s very own literary festival, Bookfest  are now on sale. Bookfest aims to celebrate Portsmouth’s strong literary heritage, being the birthplace of Charles Dickens, home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and HG Wells.  Organised jointly by The Hayling Island Bookshop and Portsmouth Library Service, the festival this year brings you a packed programme of events for all ages and interests.

Of particular interest to families with young children are the following events:

Gruffalo Tea Party – taking place at North End Library, Cosham Library and Southsea Library, where you can hear Gruffalo stories, eat Gruffalo cupcakes and meet the Gruffalo himself for a photo at these special events. The tickets are priced at £2 per child (accompanying adults free) and include a soft drink and a slice of cake for each child.

The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past! – a special event at Central library which will include dinosaur stories, an activity and an appearance from the friendly dinosaur himself.  This is a free event but you will need a ticket as places are limited.  The tickets can be reserved at Central library (again only the children need tickets).

Stories and Spooks – Spinnaker Tower – Portsmouth’s mobile library will be at the Tower on Tuesday 28th October to inspire families to get reading – this will be part of the Tower’s half term activities – which I’ll be posting about soon.

And finally, if your child attends a school in Fratton or you live in Fratton then they can enter a letter writing competition ‘Dear Me’ by writing a letter to their future selves, 10 years from now. This competition is open to children aged between 8-11.  Entries will only be accepted from Fratton schools or a Fratton address.

There are plenty of events on including a talk by Alan Titchmarsh and the ever popular CSI Portsmouth, have a look at the website http://www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk for more.

 

 

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Frozen Sing-A-Long at Mary Rose Museum for Victorian Festival of Christmas

frozen dockyardThe Mary Rose Museum will provide a striking and historic background to ‘Sing-a-Long-a’ Frozen, which will take place during Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas, which is now in its fifteenth year. The ‘Sing-a-Long-a’ Frozen is new for 2014, and will involve an outdoor screening of Frozen, Disney’s new classic animated film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Snow Queen.  The event will include a fully interactive experience with a screening of the film including a live host and lyrics, so visitors can sing along with Elsa and Anna to raise their Christmas cheer!

The Mary Rose Museum and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard hopes it will bring some Disney sparkle to the Christmas Festival, which is a Portsmouth family favourite.

The Victorian Festival of Christmas takes place on Friday 28th November to Sunday 30th November, from 10am – 6pm at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Visitors will be magically transported into a bygone era of Dickensian-style snow covered streets and a wonderland of Victorian characters and entertainment. This year’s festival also includes our first Victorian bandstand, the largest ever Christmas Market offering local produce, Fagin’s Real Ale Tavern and Santa’s reindeers. It promises to be a terrific atmosphere with something for everyone, whether it’s that perfect present or a treat for yourself.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s CEO, Lincoln Clarke says ‘It’s great that the Dockyard is able to celebrate Christmas in such style with a real Disney Classic. We’re thrilled to be bringing ‘Frozen’ to enhance the festivities this year, so now everyone can be the star of the show and sing “Let It Go”!’

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There will be three shows per day on the 28th, 29th and 30th November at 10:15am, 13:00pm and 16:00pm, each show lasts approximately 2 hours 20 minutes. Tickets for Sing-a-long-a Frozen are available to buy online at www.historicdockyard.co.uk/tickets . Early Bird tickets are now on sale at a reduced price – so don’t miss out!  

dockyard festival of christmas 3Tickets are also available to buy on the day and cost an additional £1.00 per person with a valid Victorian Festival of Christmas ticket. Tickets on the day are limited and available on a first come first served basis. Your event ticket includes entry to the Mary Rose Museum, National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS Warrior 1860, HMS Victory, Action Stations and Harbour Tours (weather permitting). If you’ve already bought a ticket for The Victorian Festival of Christmas, you can upgrade to include Sing-a-long-a Frozen. Just call the Dockyard on 023 9283 9766 for more information.

 

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Monsters Week at Blue Reef Aquarium this Half Term

Blue Reef Aquarium lionfish headIf your children like getting up close and personal with creepy crawlies, revolting reptiles and fearsome fish, then you are in luck, as Blue Reef Aquarium will be running ‘Monsters Week’ this autumn half term from Saturday 25th October to Sunday 2nd November.

Come and learn more about some of the natural world’s scariest critters, including sharks, jellyfish, poison dart frogs, deadly lionfish and some special creepy crawlies.  You can even handle some of the creepy crawlies in daily bug handling sessions.  There will be monsters themed tours and talks around the aquarium with interesting facts and quizzes followed by a mask making session in the visitors room.

Blue Reef Blue poison dart frogsBlue Reef’s Jenna McFarlane said: “Our Monsters week will provide a unique opportunity for visitors of all ages to have the chance to get up close and personal with a huge selection of beastly critters from the animal kingdom”

From the hidden world of UK Waters, Blue Reef Portsmouth transports visitors to the spectacular ‘underwater gardens’ of the Mediterranean and the stunning beauty of tropical waters – home to everything from seahorses and puffer fish to living corals and tropical sharks.

081220-M-0902C-003At the aquarium’s heart is a giant tropical ocean tank where an underwater walk through tunnel offers incredibly close encounters with a huge range of exotic coral reef species.

More than 40 naturally themed displays reveal the sheer variety of life in the deep from native sharks and rays to the cute otters and colourful reptiles and amphibians.

The Monsters Week activities are included in the usual admission fee with no extra charge.

 

 

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27th/28th September – What’s on in Portsmouth?

Sci FiThis weekend sees the long awaited re-opening of the Pyramids Centre, with refurbished pools and soft play together with a new café.  No doubt it will be busy, so get there early if you want a swim.

For family viewing you could try  Oliver! which opened on the 18th September and will be playing at the Groundlings Theatre until the 4th October.  Odeon Kids at Port Solent is showing Rio 2 at 11 am both Saturday and Sunday for just £2.50 a ticket and Vue Cinema’s Kids AM will be showing Earth to Echo at 10 am Saturday and Sunday for £1.75 a ticket.

Portsmouth made the national  press this week when a hoax UFO sighting was used to publicise the Sci Fi weekend at Action Stations at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  This is a free event with a valid dockyard ticket (single or all attraction).  Come along and see two rare Dr Who episodes at various times throughout the weekend.  If Sci Fi isn’t your thing, then there is also a costumes exhibition on at Groundlings Theatre on Saturday showcasing 11,000 items which have been hired out to theatre, and the film and television industry. There will be opportunities to try some of the costumes on – entry is £5, open between 10 am – 5 pm.

Don’t forget Bransbury Park Miniature Steam Railway is still running on Sunday afternoons (weather permitting) and will be up to and including the 19th October. At just 40 pence a ride, it’s very cheap and great fun.

For teens/adults there is a Roller disco on at Southsea Skate Park on Saturday at 7 pm, skate hire available for an extra charge featuring Miss Funky Fox vs Ted @ The controls.

Funky Town FestShopping wise, it’s the last two days of the Portsmouth Shopping Festival, so do take advantage of the discounts available to you (list here).   On Saturday get yourself down to the Guildhall where Funky Town Fest will be taking place. A giant spectacle of street theatre, art and carnival with a 30ft long, 15 ft high fire and smoke breathing dragon in attendance.  You can also find Ethiopian Jugglers, the Bonkers Balloon Show fresh from sell out shows at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a busking showdown, carnival parades, circus skills workshops and lots of child and family friendly activities including flag and dragon making, a doodle club, puppet workshops and gardening for kids by Southsea Greenhouse.  Love Southsea gift market will be there too.

 

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Pyramids to re-open 27th September 2014

PyramidsWell the wait is over, and today it has been confirmed that the Pyramids Centre will re-open to the general public on Saturday 27th September 2014.

The Centre has been closed since the May storms when it was flooded causing significant damage.  BH Live and Portsmouth City Council have worked together to carry out complex repairs and also brought forward some previously planned improvements.

The newly refurbished centre offers families fun pools with flumes and a wave machine, and a three story soft play centre   A new café and fitness studio have been added to the multi purpose gym, and the spa will also be re-opening.

The centre will be offering some great new membership deals and the best way to keep up to date with the latest offers is to follow their facebook page. You can also find information on their website or by emailing info.pyramids@bhlive.co.uk.

“Whilst the Centre has been closed, the support we have had from customers and local residents has been fantastic.  We have been working alongside Portsmouth City Council to re-open as soon as possible and, whilst most of the work done has been behind the scenes, there are improvements our customers will notice and the centre will be operating more efficiently to give an improved overall experience.” Mike Lyons, BH Live’s Director of Leisure Facilities

Councillor Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said: “This is the news customers have been waiting for.  The severe weather earlier in the year caused substantial problems forcing the closure of the Pyramids.  However ourselves and BH Live have taken the opportunity to bring forward maintenance workds and make improvements to the centre.  This is really positive news for the seafront and on behalf of both the council and BH Live I would like to thank residents and visitors for their patience.”

 

 

 

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Charming Parties of Portsmouth

DSC_0083Last week I was invited along to a party where the soft play items had been provided by Charming Parties.  For those of you who haven’t yet come across them, Charming Parties started up earlier this year and hire out inflatables and soft play toys for birthday parties and other events. Jade Salmond, the mum behind the business, spotted a gap in the market when she was looking for suitable inflatables to hire for her two young children.  Whilst bouncy castles were readily available in Portsmouth and surrounding areas, inflatables aimed at pre-schoolers were not, and Charming Parties is the result.

I had the chance to see the unique toddler playground set up ready for a party along with some soft play shapes and giant lego bricks.  The playground is really quite large and can take up to 20 children at a time. Divided into four sections, your children can enjoy a ball pit, mini bouncy castle, air tubes for floating balls on and an up and over slide.  Suitable for children aged 0 – 5, this is a lovely inflatable and one which I would be quite happy for my toddler to play on – in fact the only problem really would be persuading him to get off at the end of the party.

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The toddler playground is hired out as a package with soft play shapes, featuring jungle animals, with a monkey rocker, steps and slide and a baby play ring.  You can also add to your basic package by hiring large lego bricks, didi cars and, uniquely, a dress up box. The dress up box contains animal themed costumes in a range of sizes and a jungle background for you to take pictures of the children against.  The lego blocks were set out at the party that I attended and offer the children more varied play.

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Charming Parties also have larger inflatables for older children and they are an ideal choice if you are looking to entertain a wide range of ages – for example at a wedding.  They also offer free downloadable invitations and you can up-grade your package to include party ware and bags as well – really taking the stress out of party planning.

All equipment conforms to PIPA standards, and as Members of BIHA (British Inflatables Hire Association), Charming Parties take pride in keeping their equipment spotless and sterilise and clean all the equipment before each use. As you can see from the photographs I took, the items are pristine and very well cared for.  It takes around half an hour to 45 minutes to set up and the same again to clear away, so you’ll need to factor that into your venue hire times, and you will also need a good clear access for the equipment which is heavy and bulky.

If you’d like to find out more then do have a look at their website, or contact Jade Salmond on 07704 208 369 or you can email them at info@charmingparties.co.uk.

Charming Parties

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Glorious Victorious Festival

 

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Our woman from Hackney, Annika Eade stepped into the breach last month when she attended the Victorious Festival on my behalf and here is what she had to say about it…

A good weather forecast for a bank holiday is about as rare as a music festival with accessible parking, or so I thought whilst preparing to attend Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival on Southsea seafront.  Most music festivals have always been family friendly, yet I have never felt tempted to take my children along. The though of negotiating the crowds with a  buggy, long toilet queues and over priced entertainment has continually put me off. So needless to say I was rather anxious as we headed down to Southsea in the car, packed up with children, buggy, raincoats and the ipad in case we really ran out of entertainment options.

IMG_4056It is with rapturous delight that I report that I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I hadn’t thought to check what, if any, parking might be available yet we were able to park around a 10 minute walk from the festival site for the very reasonable fee of £5 for the day. Also we didn’t realise  that to get to our destination we would walk through the jaw dropping events at the Kite Festival on Southsea Common, which included choreographed kite shows to music and kites in the shape of Batman, a variety of animals and a cowboy no less.

IMG_4159Once inside the festival we immediately headed to one of the two kids arenas populated with fairground rides, facepainting, bouncy castles, a soft play bus and creative area for little ones with artistic flair to name just a few of the free activities available. We could also have made use of the splashpool which was inside the festival site and open to paddlers and next to it was something I’ve never seen at a festival before; a designated area for breastfeeding.  My boys were very happy to queue up to sit in the ex-Falklands Harrier Jump Jet brought along by the Navy who had also brought along a selection of disabled weapons.  I couldn’t help raising an eyebrow and was quite pleased that as a result of complaints they had received they were actually putting them away and wouldn’t be bringing them back the following day.

IMG_4162I never thought I would get passionate about the layout of the festival, but Victorious was nothing short of genius.  I had never considered the hillock on which Southsea Castle is perched as a natural amphitheatre and everything was a short walk away.  There was a hugely varied selection of food available – we went with gormet frankenfurters followed by Malteaser icecream although would have really liked to have visited the Camp Cooks serving up burgers in full drag (couldn’t justify two dinners after all the ice cream).  I must also say a huge thank you to the amazing people who stopped us to point out that, mortifyingly our iPad had dropeed out of the buggy, its loss would have made the day far less value for money!  My son was also beyond ecstatic to be given a bubble gun, free of charge by a stall holder, as he was so captivated by all the bubbles emanating from her stall we could have just left him there for the afternoon.

IMG_4170The kids were having such a great time I was loathe to tear them away to the various music stages where the line up included Tom Odell and Dizzee Rascal.  I attempted to amuse them by bopping around to Lucy Spraggan doing the Fresh Prince rap but of course this only attracted horrified stares, and I don’t think the kids liked it either!  However, as my partner and I are die hard Shed 7 fans, we weren’t going to miss out  and we all headed to the highest vantage point next to the castle overlooking the state.  Never did I think I could attend an event where I would have the Solent to my left and Shed 7 to my right, not to mention all the child friendly entertainment to be had from the grassy  banks to slide down.   Amusingly I was forced to question at one point whether or not Mr Witter was possibly under the influence. I swiftly realised that I was actually hearing the dulcet tones of the delighted moshers in the front row to whom Rick was passing his microphone around.  To coin the title of their biggest selling album we certainly ended the festival on a maximum high.

Victorious Festival is in it’s second year at its new location on Southsea Seafront, having debuted at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. If you didn’t manage to get tickets or you just had such a great time that you absolutely must go next year, then you’ll be pleased to know early bird tickets are already on sale and you can buy them through the Victorious Festival website. Next year’s festival will be held on the 29th and 30th August 2015 and early bird tickets are £18.

Victorious

 

 

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